Simon Schama interview: history is dangerous, teachers need to be brave





Nothing can dampen Simon Schama's enthusiasm for telling stories – not even being caught in a south Indian rainstorm. When I meet him at The Week Hay Festival in Kerala, his white, Indian-style shirt is soaked and his greying hair is dripping. But the 65-year-old professor of history and art history at Columbia University cannot wait to defend his latest project.

When Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, appointed him in October as a government adviser on history teaching in schools, the criticism from some was scathing. Mary Beard, the Cambridge classicist, said Schama was "not only glitzy, but also cheap" and his new role was "an insult to history teachers".

While many others, not least the millions of people who have enjoyed his television shows and bought his critically-acclaimed books, were no doubt delighted that he would be helping to sort out the curriculum, he was not helped by being given a rather unfortunate label.

"The History Tsar thing is a ridiculous title made up by another newspaper," says Schama....

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